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Water in Utah Town Contaminated with Diesel Fuel

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Residents have been warned not use tap water for 48 hours as crews work to flush the system; boiling the water won't solve the problem.

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Authorities in the town of Nibley, Utah, have warned locals not to use its water system after residents on Wednesday complained of a "foul odor in the water," which following an investigation by officials was found to have been contaminated by a recent diesel fuel spill close to the spring which supplies the city with water.

Through Wednesday night and Thursday morning, said officials, crews were flushing water from hydrants throughout the city of Nibley, accompanied by Hazmat crews to mitigate any contaminants that might be present.

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In the meantime, say authorities, Nibley's population of around 5,500 residents were told to prepare for up to 48 hours without water, and provided with a list of places to go to in neighboring towns to fill containers with safe water and take showers.

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The Bear River Health Department in Utah advised residents that "flushing toilets is OK," but not to "drink, bathe, wash, or give to pets," and town officials stressed that boiling would not remove the contamination. 

"The Material Safety Data Sheets tell us diesel is relatively non-toxic by ingestion, but it is not zero-risk, so until we can get some quantitative numbers back from the lab, we are asking people not to use the water," said Jill Parker, spokesperson for the health department, adding that residents would be notified when the water is again safe to use. 

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